||I am honoured to be here and thank Prof Vasu Reddy, of the School of Anthropology, Gender and Historical Studies, and Ms Libby Collins, of the Student Counselling Centre, for inviting me to be part of this occasion.
Moving tributes to Ronald Louw have already been delivered, including by Zackie Achmat and Vasu Reddy.1 Today I don’t intend to deliver a tribute to Ronald, except by asking what sense we can make of his death. Why did Ronald Louw die? I am not speaking of physical cause. In the sense of fleshly fallibility, we know precisely what caused his death on Sunday 26 June 2005.
He died of AIDS. Even though he was a well-nourished, fit, medically well-tended man, unencumbered by Africa’s diseases of poverty, dislocation and deprivation, he died of AIDS. He died because his immune system, stricken by years of infiltration and assault from a single pathogen – the human immuno-deficiency virus – could no longer ward off rampant cumulative opportunistic infections that eventually exhausted his resistance and choked away his life.